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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

and of Life and Habit           43

our pride and to make us think seriously of the future pros-
pects of the human race. If we revert to the earliest primor-
dial types of mechanical life, to the lever, the wedge, the
inclined plane, the screw and the pulley, or (for analogy
would lead us one step further) to that one primordial type
from which all the mechanical kingdom has been developed,
we mean to the lever itself, and if we then examine the
machinery of the Great Eastern, we find ourselves almost
awestruck at the vast development of the mechanical world,
at the gigantic strides with which it has advanced in com-
parison with the slow progress of the animal and vegetable
kingdom. We shall find it impossible to refrain from asking
ourselves what the end of this mighty movement is to be.
In what direction is it tending ? What will be its upshot ?
To give a few imperfect hints towards a solution of these
questions is the object of the present letter.

We have used the words " mechanical life," " the
mechanical kingdom," " the mechanical world" and so
forth, and we have done so advisedly, for as the vegetable
kingdom was slowly developed from the mineral, and as, in
like manner, the animal supervened upon the vegetable, so
now, in these last few ages, an entirely new kingdom has
sprung up of which we as yet have only seen what will
one day be considered the antediluvian prototypes of the
race.

We regret deeply that our knowledge both of natural
history and of machinery is too small to enable us to under-
take the gigantic task of classifying machines into the genera
and sub-genera, species, varieties and sub-varieties, and so
forth, of tracing the connecting links between machines of
widely different characters, of pointing out how subservience
to the use of man has played that part among machines
which natural selection has performed in the animal and
vegetable kingdom, of pointing out rudimentary organs
[see note] which exist in some few machines, feebly developed
and perfectly useless, yet serving to mark descent from some
ancestral type which has either perished or been modified
into some new phase of mechanical existence. We can only
point out tins field for investigation ; it must be followed by
others whose education and talents have been of a much
higher order than any which we can lay claim to.